Reviews for Katia Kabanova, Opéra de Lyon

Christian Merlin, Le Figaro, 1.5.2023

The show’s impression of absolute coherence is reinforced by the feeling that the musical direction goes exactly in the same direction as the staging, which is far from always being the case. Elena Schwarz manages the feat of giving us the impression of reading Janacek’s score like an open book, bringing to light its constant breaks in tone without ever losing a sense of unity, deploying a limpid polyphony while bringing out the most unique combinations of timbre. The leitmotifs weave the thread of the story, the rhythms are sharp but also allow for moments of tender lyricism. The orchestra is a driving force behind the action, a mission that the ensemble of the Opéra de Lyon fulfils here with a precision that it had not always given us in recent months. Special mention for the solo horn, in high demand, and also the timpani and the double bass.

Lotte Thaler, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 5.5.2023

(Corinne Winters) was well supported by Elena Schwarz, the conductor in this triumphant female-led production, with the choir and orchestra of the Lyon Opera, especially in Katia’s scene with Warwara in Act I, where the orchestra both sympathises and gives sympathy, blossoming into raptures and faltering with Katia when she no longer understands herself. Gritty instrumental sequences accompanied by flawless transparency characterised this performance, with razor-sharp brass chords, euphoric woodwinds, incisive harps, boisterously folksy scenes, visionary images of nature, and a wild orchestra thunderstorm: poetry and violence were the two poles.

José Pons, Olyrix, 30 April 2023

Conductor Elena Schwarz, known for her commitment to contemporary music, conducts Janacek’s score with fire and passion. Her direction favors the full development of orchestral colors and the characterization of atmospheres, always generous, but also attentive to the lyricism that permeates this music and this orchestra.

Elena Schwarz is rightly rewarded for her efforts by the unanimous ovation which greets her on her appearance on stage at the end of the performance, an ovation that covers all the artisans of this reference-worthy Katia Kabanova.

Clément Mariage, Forum Opéra, 6 May 2023

Completing an all-female artistic direction team, Elena Schwarz exalts Janáček’s abundant orchestral writing. Very tense and powerful, her orchestral direction serves the score wonderfully, the orchestral parts of which are perhaps even more marvelous than the sung parts. The prelude, one of the composer’s most beautiful pages, is particularly successful and the reiterations of the various themes associated with Katia are admirably glorified.

Marie-Aude Roux, Le Monde, 5 May 2023

The focused and precise baton of the Australian-Swiss conductor Elena Schwarz unfolds with acuity and sensitivity a score that mixes the sensuality of post-romantic lyricism with the wildness of expressionism.